Some South LA churches support DOMA, Prop 8 rulings

A member of L.A.’s premier Black gay men’s wellness organization “In the Meantime” poses at the X-Homophobia campaign for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in February 2013.


Following Supreme Court rulings on Wednesday, June 26 to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and again legalize gay marriage in California, several South Los Angeles church officials are expressing their support.

Various church and clergy members, including those at St. John’s Cathedral, a church in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, have held celebrations for the rulings.

Reverend Mark R. Kowalewski of St. John’s says the majority of the Episcopal Church is excited and supportive of the SCOTUS decisions.

“In a representative democracy ruled by law, it is unjust to deny access to the institution of marriage simply on the basis of the gender of the parties wishing to enter that institution,” Kowalewski said.

Kowalewski also noted that clergy members at St. John’s would be glad to marry gay couples at the cathedral. The Episcopal Church already ordains gay and lesbian clergy, along with the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ.

“We have guidelines about membership and preparation of the couples before marriage, but these hold for both straight and gay couples,” Kowalewski said. “We want to bless and celebrate the love people share with one another. That’s the bottom line.”

Yet, Kowalewski acknowledges that Christian responses to same-sex marriage are varied based on their reading of the Bible.

“Some Christian people argue that the Bible only allows for marriage between a man and a woman,” Kowalewski said. “Well, I guess we have a different understanding of how to interpret the Bible.”

Given that many social practices in the Bible, such as divorce, are said to be looked down upon by the Lord in the scriptures, yet allowed by many conservative Christians, Kowalewski said that it is not easy to hide behind a particular interpretation of the scriptures to justify one’s position against gay marriage.

“God’s primary message is that God loved the world that God became a human being in the person of Jesus who told us he came not to judge the world but to save it,” Kowalewski said. “So that’s the message we seek to give—God loves you as whoever you are.”

Similarly, members of United University Church on the USC campus are celebrating this week’s decisions.

“We believe that all people are blessed by God and deserve equal rights under the law,” Minister for Campus Engagement at United University Church Katherine Schofield said. “LGBTQ people are active participants in our church life and we work hard to affirm and celebrate the diverse experiences of our congregation.”

However, Schofield noted that the church’s parent denominations—the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church USA—are still making slow progress towards full inclusion of LBGTQ people in the life of the church. Still, Schofield noted the United University Church’s continued support of LGBTQ equality.

“We look forward to the day when our national denominations will allow us to perform same-sex marriages,” Schofield said. “We will continue to work towards that end on the local and national levels and continue to advocate for LGBTQ equality until same-sex marriage is legal throughout the nation.”

Photos by Claire Pires for Annenberg Radio News. Hear her Feb. 2013 piece here.

A peaceful protest was held on the corner of Crenshaw and S. Leimert boulevards to support X-Homophobia, an anti-homophobia campaign, in February 2013.


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